Third World Report (Middle East)

Combatting the Strangulation of Palestine

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Western governments have so far refused to recognise the Palestinian Hamas government democratically elected in January 2006.

Economic aid to the Palestinian government was curtailed and Israel is unlawfully withholding tax and customs revenue due to the PA (£35 million per month). Likewise, foreign bank accounts and financial transactions by the Palestinian Authority have been frozen, and frequent blockades of border crossings between Egypt, Jordan and Israel are causing Palestinian trade to collapse, leaving the Palestinians without basic food and medicines.

The Palestinian Unity Government: an Overdue Consensual Strategy?

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The tormented birth of the Palestinian national unity government could mark a truly new phase in the Palestinian struggle for self-determination.

Hamas, the mainstream Palestinian Islamist movement that was established in 1987 and won the January 2006 elections will share power with Fatah, the main Palestinian secular national force who had led the Palestinians from the late 1950s until Hama's surprise election victory this year. The main parameters of the agreement include the formation of a cabinet with almost twice as many posts going to Hamas as to Fateh. Ministers are to be only sympathisers of either movement or technocrats drawn from their second ranks.

Palestine: Attacks on Hamas

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Palestine in 2006 was dominated by a single event: the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas's overwhelming victory in last January's general elections.

Israel then launched an economic embargo on the new government, withholding tax-revenues belonging to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and successfully urging western governments to cease aid payments.

The result has been a slow strangulation of the already crippled Palestinian economy and a great intensification of Palestinian suffering. The justification was three-fold: Hamas's refusal to recognise Israel's right to exist, to formally renounce violence and to accept previous agreements with Israel.

Palestine: Fatah, Hamas, Israel and the West

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In the last weeks of 2006 Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction finally launched their much anticipated attempted coup against the democratically elected Palestinian cabinet headed by the Islamic organisation Hamas and prime minister Ismail Haniyeh.

This followed days of deliberately engineered interfactional violence.

Karma Nablusi, a former leading Fatah activist, has incisively attacked her former party on the authoritative Palestinian website, Electronic Intifada, for allowing themselves to become a Western puppet.

Kurdistan: What Now for National Liberation?

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The Kurds are distinguished from their neighbours by their language, culture, and a homeland where they represent about 90 percent of the population. They speak an Indo-European language different from both Turkish and Arabic.

The Kurdish population is about 36 million, of whom 55 percent live within the borders of Turkey, where they represent 30 percent of the population. The rest live mainly in Iran, Iraq and Syria. The Kurds are by far the largest stateless nation on earth.

Middle East: Beware the Cornered Tiger

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As calls for an exit strategy from Iraq increase within ruling class circles, Chris Harman looks at what past imperial retreats could herald for the Iraqis.

Ninety percent of the politicians, generals and overpaid media hacks who enthused in support of the blitz against Baghdad three and a half years ago are now agreed on one thing. They made terrible mistakes. Not in terms of the death toll. For such people the US and Britain cannot, by definition, commit war crimes.

Iraq: 'The British army is just another militia'

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Kamil Mahdi interviewed

Daily the media tells us about clashes between "insurgents" and Western troops in Iraq. We hear less about the unarmed resistance which is fighting the occupation with strikes and workplace walkouts. The General Union of Oil Employees in Basra (GUOE), or Basra Oil Union as it is commonly referred to, is in many respects leading in that struggle - continuously opposing international corporations that want to take over the national oil industry.

Palestine: Boycott of Israel Gains New Support

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An international campaign for Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel is growing rapidly.

Outrage at Israel's assault on Lebanon is certain to increase the pace of activity. In Britain university lecturers are spearheading the campaign. In June the national conference of the Natfhe lecturers' union agreed to encourage all members to consider their relations with Israeli universities. There was overwhelming support for a resolution which called for lecturers to break links with universities known to be involved.

Iraq and the Costs of Conflict

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Debates about the Iraq conflict have focused on political, military, moral and legal arguments to the neglect of economic aspects. But wars are costly and the Iraq conflict is no exception.

The relevance of economics

Conflict and the subsequent peacekeeping require scarce resources which could be used for alternatives such as education and health. But military costs are only one component of the total costs of conflict. Typically, there are sizeable hidden costs which cannot be ignored. Historically, conflict was the preserve of political scientists, but increasingly, defence economists are applying their economic tools to the analysis of conflict (Sandler and Hartley, 2003).

The economics of conflict

Iraq: Filmmaking under occupation

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Maysoon Pachachi interview with Anne Ashford

Iraq is constantly in the news, but the coverage which dominates our televisions is one-dimensional. For Maysoon Pachachi, an Iraqi filmmaker, it silences the voices which matter most-those of ordinary Iraqis: "I was very struck during the first Gulf War, when I was watching hours and hours of media coverage. You never saw one ordinary Iraqi person expressing an opinion. And there are so many stories in Iraq, and so many years of being silenced."

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